(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Poems by Emily Dickinson"

f 






University of California Berkeley 



Gift of 



John Cheney 



Ttst 



^c<^ 



c^ 







c 








POEMS 



BY 



EMILY DICKINSON 



!EUittti fog tfoo of ijer JFrientJs 
T. W. HIGGINSON AND MABEL LOOMIS TODD 

SECOND SERIES 



BOSTON 

ROBERTS BROTHERS 
1891 



Copyright, 1891, 
BY ROBERTS BROTHERS. 



SHntoersttg 

JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A. 



PREFACE. 



HPHE eagerness with which the first volume of 
Emily Dickinson's poems has been read shows 
very clearly that all our alleged modern artificiality 
does not prevent a prompt appreciation of the quali- 
ties of directness and simplicity in approaching the 
greatest themes, life and love and death. That 
" irresistible needle-touch," as one of her best critics 
has called it, piercing at once the very core of a 
thought, has found a response as wide and sympa- 
thetic as it has been unexpected even to those who 
knew best her compelling power. This second vol- 
ume, while open to the same criticism as to form 
with its predecessor, shows also the same shining 
beauties. 

Although Emily Dickinson had been in the habit 
of sending occasional poems to friends and corre- 



4 PREFACE. 

spondents, the full extent of her writing was by no 
means imagined by them. Her friend " H. H." 
must at least have suspected it, for in a letter 
dated 5th September, 1884, she wrote: 

MY DEAR FRIEND, What portfolios full of verses 
you must have! It is a cruel wrong to your "day and 
generation " that you will not give them light. 

If such a thing should happen as that I should outlive 
you, I wish you would make me your literary legatee 
and executor. Surely after you are what is called 
"dead" you will be willing that the poor ghosts you 
have left behind should be cheered and pleased by your 
verses, will you not ? You ought to be. I do not think 
we have a right to withhold from the world a word or 
a thought any more than a deed which might help a 
single soul. . , . 

Truly yours, 

HELEN JACKSON. 

The "portfolios" were found, shortly after Emily 
Dickinson's death, by her sister and only surviving 
housemate. Most of the poems had been carefully 
copied on sheets of note-paper, and tied in little fas- 
cicules, each of six or eight sheets. While many 



PREFACE. 5 

of them bear evidence of having been thrown off at 
white heat, still more had received thoughtful revi- 
sion. There is the frequent addition of rather per- 
plexing foot-notes, affording large choice of words and 
phrases. And in the copies which she sent to friends, 
sometimes one form, sometimes another, is found to 
have been used. Without important exception, her 
friends have generously placed at the disposal of the 
Editors any poems they had received from her ; and 
these have given the obvious advantage of compari- 
son among several renderings of the same verse. 

To what further rigorous pruning her verses would 
have been subjected had she published them herself, 
we cannot know. They should be regarded in many 
cases as merely the first strong and suggestive sketches 
of an artist, intended to be embodied at some time in 
the finished picture. 

Emily Dickinson appears to have written her first 
poems in the winter of 1862. In a letter to one of 
the present Editors the April following, she says, " I 
made no verse, but one or two, until this winter." 

The handwriting was at first somewhat like the 
delicate, running Italian hand of our elder gentle- 



6 PREFACE. 

women ; but as she advanced in breadth of thought, 
it grew bolder and more abrupt, until in her latest 
years each letter stood distinct and separate from its 
fellows. In most of her poems, particularly the later 
ones, everything by way of punctuation was discarded, 
except numerous dashes ; and all important words 
began with capitals. The effect of a page of her 
more recent manuscript is exceedingly quaint and 
strong. The fac-simile given in the present volume 
is from one of the earlier transition periods. Al- 
though there is nowhere a date, the handwriting makes 
it possible to arrange the poems with general chrono- 
logic accuracy. 

As a rule, the verses were without titles ; but " A 
Country Burial," " A Thunder-Storm," l< The Hum- 
ming-Bird," and a few others were named by their 
author, frequently at the end, sometimes only in 
the accompanying note, if sent to a friend. 

The variation of readings, with the fact that she 
often wrote in pencil and not always clearly, have at 
times thrown a good deal of responsibility upon her 
Editors. But all interference not absolutely inevi- 
table has been avoided. The very roughness of her 



PREFACE j 

own rendering is part of herself, and not lightly to 
be touched ; for it seems in many cases that she 
intentionally avoided the smoother and more usual 
rhymes. 

Like impressionist pictures, or Wagner's rugged 
music, the very absence of conventional form chal- 
lenges attention. In Emily Dickinson's exacting hands, 
the especial, intrinsic fitness of a particular order 
of words might not be sacrificed to anything virtually 
extrinsic ; and her verses all show a strange cadence 
of inner rhythmical music. Lines are always daringly 
constructed, and the "thought-rhyme" appears fre- 
quently, appealing, indeed, to an unrecognized 
sense more elusive than hearing. 

Emily Dickinson scrutinized everything with clear- 
eyed frankness. Every subject was proper ground for 
legitimate study, even the sombre facts of death and 
burial, and the unknown life beyond. She touches 
these themes sometimes lightly, sometimes almost 
humorously, more often with weird and peculiar 
power ; but she is never by any chance frivolous or 
trivial. And while, as one critic has said, she may 
exhibit toward God " an Emersonian self-possession," 



8 PREFACE. 

it was because she looked upon all life with a candor 
as unprejudiced as it is rare. 

She had tried society and the world, and found 
them lacking. She was not an invalid, and she lived 
in seclusion from no love-disappointment. Her life 
was the normal blossoming of a nature introspective 
to a high degree, whose best thought could not exist 
in pretence. 

Storm, wind, the wild March sky, sunsets and 
dawns ; the birds and bees, butterflies and flowers of 
her garden, with a few trusted human friends, were 
sufficient companionship. The coming of the first 
robin was a jubilee beyond crowning of monarch or 
birthday of pope ; the first red leaf hurrying through 
"the altered air," an epoch. Immortality was close 
about her ; and while never morbid or melancholy, 
she lived in its presence. 



MABEL LOOMIS TODD. 



AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS, 
August, 1891. 



CONTENTS. 



RENUNCIATION (fac-simile) Frontispiece. 

PREFACE Page 3 

PRELUDE 17 

BOOK I. LIFE. 

I. "I'm nobody! Who are you?" 21 

II. "I bring an unaccustomed wine " 22 

III. " The nearest dream recedes unrealized " ... 24 

IV. " We play at paste " 25 

V. " I found the phrase to every thought " .... 26 

VI. Hope 27 

VII. The White Heat 28 

VIII. Triumphant 29 

IX. The Test 30 

X. Escape . 31 

XI. Compensation 32 

XII. The Martyrs 33 



IO 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

XIII. A Prayer . 34 

XIV. " The.thought beneath so slight a film " . . 36 
XV. " The soul unto itself " 37 

XVI. " Surgeons must be very careful " . . : . 38 

XVII. The Railway Train 39 

XVIII. The Show 40 

XIX. " Delight becomes pictorial "..,... 41 

XX. " A thought went up my mind to-day " . . 42 

XXI. " Is Heaven a physician ?" 43 

XXII. The Return . 44 

XXIII. "A poor torn heart, a tattered heart " . . . 45 

XXIV. Too Much 46 

XXV. Shipwreck 48 

XXVI. " Victory comes late " 49 

XXVII. Enough 50 

XXVIII. " Experiment to me " 51 

XXIX. My Country's Wardrobe . 52 

XXX. " Faith is a fine invention " 53 

XXXI. " Except the heaven had come so near " . . 54 

XXXII. " Portraits are to daily faces " 55 

XXXIII. The Duel , '. 56 

XXXIV. " A shady friend for torrid days " .... 57 
XXXV. The Goal 58 

XXXVI. Sight ...... Up '. \ . , . . 60 

XXXVII. " Talk with prudence to a beggar " .... 62 

XXXVIII. The Preacher . !-! y J ..',>. . . 63 



CONTENTS. 



II 



PAGE 

XXXIX. " Good night ! which put the candle out ? " . 64 

XL. " When I hoped I feared " ...... 65 

XLI. Deed 66 

XLII. Time's Lesson 67 

XLIII. Remorse 68 

XLIV. The Shelter 69 

XLV. " Undue significance a starving man attaches " 70 

XLVI. " Heart not so heavy as mine " 71 

XLVII. " I many times thought peace had come " . 73 

XLVIII. " Unto my books so good to turn " ... 74 

XLIX. " This merit hath the worst " 75 

L. Hunger 76 

LI. " I gained it so " 78 

LII. " To learn the transport by the pain " . . . 79 

LI II. Returning 80 

LIV. Prayer 82 

LV. " I know that he exists " 83 

LVI. Melodies Unheard 84 

LVII. Called Back 85 

BOOK II. LOVE. 

I. Choice 89 

II. " I have no life but this " 90 

III. " Your riches taught me poverty " .... 91 

IV. The Contract 93 



! 2 CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

V. The Letter , 94 

VI. " The way I read a letter 's this " 96 

VII. " Wild nights ! Wild nights ! " 97 

VIII. At Home . 98 

IX. Possession 100 

X. " A charm invests a face " 101 

XI. The Lovers 102 

XII. " In lands I never saw, they say " . . . . . 103 

XIII. " The moon is distant from the sea " .... 104 

XIV. " He put the belt around my life " . . . . 105 
XV. The Lost Jewel 106 

XVI. " What if I say I shall not wait ? " 107 

BOOK III. NATURE. 

I. Mother Nature in 

II. Out of the Morning . . . . . . '. . . . 113 

III. " At half-past three a single bird " 114 

IV. Day's Parlor 115 

V. The Sun's Wooing . : 116 

VI. The Robin 117 

VII. The Butterfly's Day 118 

VIII. The Bluebird 120 

IX. April 121 

X. The Sleeping Flowers . . . . . . '. -. . . 122 

XL My Rose ...... . ? . , . . . . . 124 



CONTENTS. 13 

PAGE 

XII. The Oriole's Secret 125 

XIII. The Oriole 126 

XIV. In Shadow 128 

XV. The Humming-Bird 130 

XVI. Secrets 13* 

XVII. " Who robbed the woods ?" 132 

XVHI. Two Voyagers 133 

XIX. By the Sea 134 

XX. Old-Fashioned i3 6 

XXI. A Tempest I3 8 

XXII. The Sea 139 

XXIII. In the Garden 140 

XXIV. The Snake 142 

XXV. The Mushroom 144 

XXVI. The Storm 146 

XXVII. The Spider 147 

XXVIII. "I know a place where summer strives " . 148 

XXIX. " The one that could repeat the summer day " 149 

XXX. The Wind's Visit 150 

XXXI. " Nature rarer uses yellow " 152 

XXXII. Gossip ............ 153 

XXXIII. Simplicity i$4 

XXXIV. Storm 155 

XXXV. The Rat 156 

XXXVI. " Frequently the woods are pink " ... 157 

XXXVII. A Thunder- Storm 158 



1 4 CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

XXXVIII. With Flowers , . . , . 160 

XXXIX. Sunset 161 

XL. " She sweeps with many-colored brooms '' . 162 

XLI. "Like mighty footlights burned the red " . 163 

XLII. Problems 164 

XLIII. The Juggler of Day 166 

XLIV. My Cricket 167 

XLV. " As imperceptibly as grief " .... .~TH58 

XLVI. " It can't be summer, that got through " . 169 

XLVII. Summer's Obsequies 170 

XLVIII. Fringed Gentian 172 

XLIX. November 173 

L. The Snow 174 

LI. The Blue Jay 176 

BOOK IV. TIME AND ETERNITY. 

I. " Let down the bars, O Death I" . . . . 181 

II. " Going to heaven ! " 182 

III. "At least to pray is left, is left " .... 184 

IV. Epitaph 185 

V. "Morns like these we parted" 186 

VI. " A death-blow is a life-blow to some '' . . 187 

VII. " I read my sentence steadily " 188 

VIII. " I have not told my garden yet " . . . . 189 

IX. The Battle-Field 190 



CONTENTS. !$ 

PAGE 

X. " The only ghost I ever saw " 191 

XI. " Some, too fragile for winter winds " . , 192 

XII. "As by the dead we love to sit " . . . . 193 

XIII. Memorials 194 

XIV. " I went to heaven " 196 

XV. " Their height in heaven comforts not " . . 197 

XVI. " There is a shame of nobleness " . . . . 198 

XVII. Triumph 199 

XVIII. " Pompless no life can pass away" . . . 200 

XIX. " I noticed people disappeared " .... 201 

XX. Following 202 

XXI. " If anybody's friend be dead " . . . . . 204 

XXII. The Journey 206 

XXIII. A Country Burial . ... . . ... 207 

XXIV. Going 208 

XXV. " Essential oils are wrung " . . . . . . . 210 

XXVI. " I lived on dread ; to those who know " . 211 

XXVII. "If I should die" 212 

XXVIII. At Length 213 

XXIX. Ghosts 214 

XXX. Vanished 216 

XXXI. Precedence 217 

XXXII. Gone 218 

XXXIII. Requiem 220 

XXXIV. "What inn is this?" 221 

XXXV. " It was not death, for I stood up "... 222 



i6 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

XXXVI. Till the End #V- . 224 

XXXVII. Void 225 

XXXVIII. " A throe upon the features " 226 

XXXIX. Saved .227 

XL. " I think just how my shape will rise " . 228 

XLI. The Forgotten Grave 229 

XLII. " Lay this laurel on the one " .... 230 



l\/fy nosegays are for captives 
Dim, long-expectant eyes, 
- Fingers denied the plucking, 
Patient till paradise. 

To such, if they should whisper 
Of morning and the moor, 

They bear no other errand, 
And I, no other prayer. 



I. 

LIFE. 



POEMS. 



i. 



T 'M nobody ! Who are you? 

Are you nobody, too? 
Then there 's a pair of us don't tell ! 
They 'd banish us, you know. 

How dreary to be somebody ! 
How public, like a frog 
To tell your name the livelong day 
To an admiring bog ! 



22 POEMS. 



II. 



T BRING an unaccustomed wine 

To lips long parching, next to mine, 
And summon them to drink. 

Crackling with fever, they essay ; 
I turn my brimming eyes away, 
And come next hour to look. 

The hands still hug the tardy glass ; 
The lips I would have cooled, alas ! 
Are so superfluous cold, 

I would as soon attempt to warm 
The bosoms where the frost has lain 
Ages beneath the mould. 

Some other thirsty there may be 

To whom this would have pointed me 

Had it remained to speak. 



POEMS. 23 



And so I always bear the cup 
If, haply, mine may be the drop 
Some pilgrim thirst to slake, 

If, haply, any say to me, 
a Unto the little, unto me," 
When I at last awake. 



24 POEMS. 



III. 

HTHE nearest dream recedes, unrealized, 

The heaven we chase 

Like the June bee 

Before the school-boy 

Invites the race ; 

Stoops to an easy clover 
Dips evades teases deploys ; 

Then to the royal clouds 

Lifts his light pinnace 

Heedless of the boy 
Staring, bewildered, at the mocking sky. 

Homesick for steadfast honey, 
Ah ! the bee flies not 
That brews that rare variety. 



POEMS. 



2 5 



IV. 

V\7E play at paste, 
V V Till qualified for pearl, 
Then drop the paste, 
And deem ourself a fool. 
The shapes, though, were similar, 
And our new hands 
Learned gem-tactics 
Practising sands. 



26 POEMS. 



V. 



T FOUND the phrase to every thought 

I ever had, but one ; 
And that defies me, as a hand 
Did try to chalk the sun 

To races nurtured in the dark ; 
How would your own begin ? 
Can blaze be done in cochineal, 
Or noon in mazarin? 



POEMS. 27 

VI. 

HOPE. 

IT OPE is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all, 

And sweetest in the gale is heard ; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm. 

I Ve heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea ; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me. 



28 POEMS. 

VII. 
THE WHITE HEAT. 

TP\ARE you see a soul at the white heat? 

Then crouch within the door. 
Red is the fire's common tint ; 
But when the vivid ore 

Has sated flame's conditions, 
Its quivering substance plays 

Without a color but the light 
Of unanointed blaze. 

Least village boasts its blacksmith, 

Whose anvil's even din 
Stands symbol for the finer forge 

That soundless tugs within, 

Refining these impatient ores 
With hammer and with blaze, 

Until the designated light 
Repudiate the forge. 



POEMS. 

VIII. 
TRIUMPH. 

TIT" HO never lost, are unprepared 

A coronet to find ; 
Who never thirsted, flagons 
And cooling tamarind. 

Who never climbed the weary league 
Can such a foot explore 
The purple territories 
On Pizarro's shore ? 

How many legions overcome ? 
The emperor will say. 
How many colors taken 
On Revolution Day? 

How many bullets bearest? 
The royal scar hast thou ? 
Angels, write " Promoted " 
On this soldier's brow ! 



30 POEMS. 

IX. 
THE TEST. 

T CAN wade grief, 

Whole pools of it, - 
I 'm used to that. 
But the least push of joy 
Breaks up my feet, 
And I tip drunken. 
Let no pebble smile, 
J T was the new liquor, 
That was all ! 

Power is only pain, 

Stranded, through discipline, 

Till weights will hang. 

Give balm to giants, 

And they '11 wilt, like men. 

Give Himmaleh, 

They '11 carry him ! 



POEMS. 



X. 

ESCAPE. 

T NEVER hear the word " escape 

Without a quicker blood, 
A sudden expectation, 
A flying attitude. 

I never hear of prisons broad 
By soldiers battered down, 
But I tug childish at my bars, 
Only to fail again ! 



POEMS. 



XI. 

COMPENSATION. 

T^OR each ecstatic instant 

We must an anguish pay 
In keen and quivering ratio 
To the ecstasy. 

For each beloved hour 
Sharp pittances of years, 
Bitter contested farthings 
And coffers heaped with tears. 



POEMS. 

XII. 
THE MARTYRS. 

^THROUGH the straight pass of suffering 

The martyrs even trod, 
Their feet upon temptation, 
Their faces upon God. 

A stately, shriven company ; 
Convulsion playing round, 
Harmless as streaks of meteor 
Upon a planet's bound. 

Their faith the everlasting troth ; 
Their expectation fair ; 
The needle to the north degree 
Wades so, through polar air. 



24 POEMS. 



XIII. 
A PRAYER. 

T MEANT to have but modest needs. 

Such as content, and heaven ; 
Within my income these could lie, 
And life and I keep even. ' 

But since the last included both, 
It would suffice my prayer 
But just for one to stipulate, 
And grace would grant the pair. 

And so, upon this wise I prayed, . 
Great Spirit, give to me 
A heaven not so large as yours, 
But large enough for me. 

A smile suffused Jehovah's face ; 
The cherubim withdrew ; 
Grave saints stole out to look at me, 
And showed their dimples, too. 



POEMS. 

I left the place with all my might, 
My prayer away I threw ; 
The quiet ages picked it up, 
And Judgment twinkled, too, 

That one so honest be extant 
As take the tale for true 
That " Whatsoever you shall ask, 
Itself be given you." 

But I, grown shrewder, scan the skies 
With a suspicious air, 
As children, swindled for the first, 
All swindlers be, infer. 



35 



POEMS. 



XIV. 

H^HE thought beneath so slight a film 

Is more distinctly seen, 
As laces just reveal the surge, 
Or mists the Apennine. 



POEMS. 37 



XV. 

'"THE soul unto itself 

Is an imperial friend, 
Or the most agonizing spy 
An enemy could send. 

Secure against its own, 
No treason it can fear ; 
Itself its sovereign, of itself 
The soul should stand in awe. 



POEMS. 



XVI. 

C URGEONS must be very careful 
^ When they take the knife ! 
Underneath their fine incisions 
Stirs the Culprit, Life ! 



POEMS. 39 

XVII. 
THE RAILWAY TRAIN. 

T LIKE to see it lap the miles, 

*- And lick the valleys up, 
And stop to feed itself at tanks ; 
And then, prodigious, step 

Around a pile of mountains, 
And, supercilious, peer 
In shanties by the sides of roads ; 
And then a quarry pare 

To fit its sides, and crawl between, 
Complaining all the while 
In horrid, hooting stanza ; 
Then chase itself down hill 

And neigh like Boanerges ; 
Then, punctual as a star, 
Stop . docile and omnipotent 
At its own stable door. 



4 



POEMS. 



XVIII. 
THE SHOW. 



T^HE show is not the show, 
* But they that go. 
Menagerie to me 
My neighbor be. 
Fair play 
Both went to see. 



POEMS. 



XIX. 

"p\ELIGHT becomes pictorial 

When viewed through pain. 
More fair, because impossible 
That any gain. 

The mountain at a given distance 
In amber lies ; 

Approached, the amber flits a little, 
And that 's the skies ! 



4 2 



POEMS. 



XX. 

A THOUGHT went up my mind to-day 
** That I have had before, 
But did not finish, some way back, 
I could not fix the year, 

Nor where it went, nor why it came 
The second time to me, 
Nor definitely what it was, 
Have I the art to say. 

But somewhere in my soul, I know 
I Ve met the thing before ; 
It just reminded me 't was all 
And came my way no more. 



POEMS. 



XXI. 

TS Heaven a physician ? 

They say that He can heal ; 
But medicine posthumous 
Is unavailable. 

Is Heaven an exchequer? 

They speak of what we owe ; 
But that negotiation 

I 'm not a party to. 



44 



POEMS. 

XXII. 
THE RETURN. 

THROUGH I get home how late, how late ! 
*- So I get home, 't will compensate. 
Better will be the ecstasy 
That they have done expecting me, 
When, night descending, dumb and dark, 
They hear my unexpected knock. 
Transporting must the moment be, 
Brewed from decades of agony ! 

To think just how the fire will burn, 
Just how long-cheated eyes will turn 
To wonder what myself will say, 
And what itself will say to me, 
Beguiles the centuries of way ! 



POEMS. 4 5 



XXIII. 

A POOR torn heart, a tattered heart, 
^^ That sat it down to rest, 
Nor noticed that the ebbing day 
Flowed silver to the west, 
Nor noticed night did soft descend 
Nor constellation burn, 
Intent upon the vision 
Of latitudes unknown. 

The angels, happening that way, 
This dusty heart espied ; 
Tenderly took it up from toil 
And carried it to God. 
There, sandals for the barefoot ; 
There, gathered from the gales, 
Do the blue havens by the hand 
Lead the wandering sails. 



46 POEMS. 

XXIV. 
TOO MUCH. 

T SHOULD have been too glad, I see, 
Too lifted for the scant degree 

Of life's penurious round ; 
My little circuit would have shamed 
This new circumference, have blamed 

The homelier time behind. 

I should have been too saved, I see, 
Too rescued ; fear too dim to me 

That I could spell the prayer 
I knew so perfect yesterday, 
That scalding one, " Sabachthani, " 

Recited fluent here. 

Earth would have been too much, I see, 
And heaven not enough for me ; 

I should have had the joy 
Without the fear to justify, 
The palm without the Calvary ; 

So, Saviour, crucify. 



POEMS. 47 

Defeat whets victory, they say ; 
The reefs in old Gethsemane 

Endear the shore beyond. 
'T is beggars banquets best define ; 
T is thirsting vitalizes wine, 

Faith faints to understand. 



48 POEMS. 

XXV. 
SHIPWRECK. 

T T tossed and tossed, 

A little brig I knew, 
O'ertook by blast ; 
It spun and spun, 
And groped delirious, for morn. 

It slipped and slipped, 
As one that drunken stepped ; 
Its white foot tripped, 
Then dropped from sight. 

Ah, brig, good-night 

To crew and you ; 

The ocean's heart too smooth, too blue, 

To break for you. 



POEMS. 49 



XXVI. 

yiCTORY comes late, 

And is held low to freezing lips 
Too rapt with frost 
To take it. 

How sweet it would have tasted, 
Just a drop ! 

Was God so economical? 
His table 's spread too high for us 
Unless we dine on tip-toe. 
Crumbs fit such little mouths, 
Cherries suit robins ; 
The eagle's golden breakfast 
Strangles them. 

God keeps his oath to sparrows, 
Who of little love 
Know how to starve ! 



5 



POEMS. 

XXVII. 
ENOUGH. 

C^ OD gave a loaf to every bird. 

But just a crumb to me ; 
I dare not eat it, though I starve, 
My poignant luxury 
To own it, touch it, prove the feat 
That made the pellet mine, 
Too happy in my sparrow chance 
For ampler coveting. 

It might be famine all around, 

I could not miss an ear, 

Such plenty smiles upon my board, 

My garner shows so fair. 

I wonder how the rich may feel, 

An Indiaman an Earl ? 

I deem that I with but a crumb 

Am sovereign of them all. 



POEMS. 



XXVIII. 

EXPERIMENT to me \ 

Is every one I meet, i 
If it contain a kernel? 
The figure of a nut 

Presents upon a tree, 
Equally plausibly ; 
But meat within is requisite, 
To squirrels and to me. 



POEMS. 

XXIX. 
MY COUNTRY'S WARDROBE. 

TV/I Y country need not change her gown, 

Her triple suit as sweet 
As when 't was cut at Lexington, 
And first pronounced " a fit." 

Great Britain disapproves " the stars ; " 
Disparagement discreet, 
There 's something in their attitude 
That taunts her bayonet. 



POEMS. 



53 



XXX. 

T7AITH is a fine invention 

For gentlemen who see ; 
But microscopes are prudent 
In an emergency ! 



54 POEMS. 



XXXI. 

"T^XCEPT the heaven had come so near, 

So seemed to choose my door, 
The distance would not haunt me so : 
I had not hoped before. 

But just to hear the grace depart 
I never thought to see, 
Afflicts me with a double loss ; 
'T is lost, and lost to me. 



POEMS. 55 



XXXII. 

PORTRAITS are to daily faces 

As an evening west 
To a fine, pedantic sunshine 
In a satin vest. 



56 POEMS. 



XXXIII. 
THE DUEL. 

T TOOK my power in my hand 
And went against the world ; 
'T was not so much as David had, 
But I was twice as bold. 

I aimed my pebble, but myself 
Was all the one that fell. 
Was it Goliath was too large, 
Or only I too small ? 



57 



XXXIV. 

A SHADY friend for torrid days 

Is easier to find 

Than one of higher temperature 
For frigid hour of mind. 

The vane a little to the east 
Scares muslin souls away ; 
If broadcloth breasts are firmer 
Than those of organdy, 

Who is to blame ? The weaver ? 
Ah ! the bewildering thread ! 
The tapestries of paradise 
So notelessly are made ! 



5 8 POEMS. 



XXXV. 
THE GOAL. 

"Tj^ACH life converges to some centre 
"^ Expressed or still ; 
Exists in every human nature 
A goal, 



Admitted scarcely to itself, it may be. 

Too fair 

For credibility's temerity 

To dare. 



Adored with caution, as a brittle heaven, 
To reach 

Were hopeless as the rainbow's raiment 
To touch, 



POEMS. 



Yet persevered toward, surer for the distance ; 

How high 

Unto the saints' slow diligence 

The sky ! 



Ungained, it may be, by a life's low venture, 

But then, 

Eternity enables the endeavoring 

Again. 



60 POEMS. 



XXXVI. 
SIGHT. 

T)EFORE I got my eye put out, 

I liked as well to see 
As other creatures that have eyes, 
And know no other way. 

But were it told to me, to-day, 
That I might have the sky 
For mine, I tell you that my heart 
Would split, for size of me. 



The meadows mine, the mountains mine, 
All forests, stintless stars, 
As much of noon as I could take 
Between my finite eyes. 



POEMS. 6 1 

The motions of the dipping birds, 
The lightning's jointed road, 
For mine to look at when I liked, 
The news would strike me dead ! 

So, safer, guess, with just my soul 
Upon the window-pane 
Where other creatures put their eyes, 
Incautious of the sun. 



62 POEMS. 



XXXVII. 

'"PALK with prudence to a beggar 

Of ' Potosi ' and the mines ! 
Reverently to the hungry 
Of your viands and your wines ! 

Cautious, hint to any captive 

You have passed enfranchised feet ! 

Anecdotes of air in dungeons 

Have sometimes proved deadly sweet ! 



POEMS. 63 

XXXVIII. 
THE PREACHER. 

TIE preached upon " breadth " till it argued 

him narrow, 

The broad are too broad to define ; 
And of " truth " until it proclaimed him a liar, 
The truth never flaunted a sign. 

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence 
As gold the pyrites would shun. 
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus 
To meet so enabled a man ! 



64 POEMS. 



XXXIX. 

OOD night ! which put the candle out ? 

A jealous zephyr, not a doubt. 
Ah ! friend, you little knew 
How long at that celestial wick 
The angels labored diligent ; 
Extinguished, now, for you ! 

It might have been the lighthouse spark 
Some sailor, rowing in the dark, 

Had importuned to see ! 
It might have been the waning lamp 
That lit the drummer from the camp 

To purer reveille ! 



POEMS. 65 



XL. 

AVTHEN I hoped I feared, 

Since I hoped I dared ; 
Everywhere alone 
As a church remain ; 
Spectre cannot harm, 
Serpent cannot charm ; 
He deposes doom, 
Who hath suffered him. 



66 POEMS. 

XLI. 
DEED. 

A DEED knocks first at thought, 

And then it knocks at will. 
That is the manufacturing spot, 
And will at home and well. 

It then goes out an act, 
Or is entombed so still 
That only to the ear of God 
Its doom is audible. 



POEMS. 



XLIL 
TIME'S LESSON. 

TV/TINE enemy is growing old, - 

A I have at last revenge. 
The palate of the hate departs ; 
If any would avenge, 

Let him be quick, the viand flits, 
It is a faded meat. 
Anger as soon as fed is dead ; 
'T is starving makes it fat. 



68 POEMS. 

XLIII. 
REMORSE. 

"D EMORSE is memory awake, 

Her companies astir, 
A presence of departed acts 
At window and at door. 

It 's past set down before the soul, 
And lighted with a match, 
Perusal to facilitate 
Of its condensed despatch. 

Remorse is cureless, the disease 
Not even God can heal ; 
For 't is his institution, 
The complement of hell. 



POEMS. 



69 



XLIV. 
THE SHELTER. 



*T^HE body grows outside, - 

The more convenient way, 
That if the spirit like to hide, 
Its temple stands alway 

Ajar, secure, inviting ; 

It never did betray 

The soul that asked its shelter 

In timid honesty. 



70 POEMS. 



XLV. 

T INDUE significance a starving man attaches 
U To food 

Far off; he sighs, and therefore hopeless, 
And therefore good. 

Partaken, it relieves indeed, but proves us 
That spices fly 

In the receipt. It was the distance 
Was savory. 



POEMS. 



XLVI. 



T T EART not so heavy as mine, 

Wending late home, 
As it passed my window 
Whistled itself a tune, 



A careless snatch, a ballad, 
A ditty of the street ; 
Yet to my irritated ear 
An anodyne so sweet, 

It was as if a bobolink, 
Sauntering this way, 
Carolled and mused and carolled, 
Then bubbled slow away. 



POEMS. 

It was as if a chirping brook 
Upon a toilsome way 
Set bleeding feet to minuets 
Without the knowing why. 

To-morrow, night will come again, 
Weary, perhaps, and sore. 
Ah, bugle, by my window, 
I pray you stroll once more ! 



POEMS. 



73 



XLVIL 

T MANY times thought peace had come, 

When peace was far away ; 
As wrecked men deem they sight the land 
At centre of the sea, 

And struggle slacker, but to prove, 
As hopelessly as I, 
How many the fictitious shores 
Before the harbor lie. 



74 POEMS. 



XLVIII. 



T INTO my books so good to turn 
V Far ends of tired days ; 
It half endears the abstinence, 
And pain is missed in praise. 

As flavors cheer retarded guests 
With banquetings to be, 
So spices stimulate the time 
Till my small library. 

It may be wilderness without, 
Far feet of failing men, 
But holiday excludes the night, 
And it is bells within. 

I thank these kinsmen of the shelf; 
Their countenances bland 
Enamour in prospective, 
And satisfy, obtained. 



POEMS. 



75 



XLIX. 

r T^HIS merit hath the worst, - 

It cannot be again. 
When Fate hath taunted last 
And thrown her furthest stone, 

The maimed may pause and breathe, 
And glance securely round. 
The deer invites no longer 
Than it eludes the hound. 



7 6 



POEMS. 



L. 
HUNGER. 

T HAD been hungry all the years ; 

My noon had come, to dine ; 
I, trembling, drew the table near, 
And touched the curious wine. 

'T was this on tables I had seen, 
When turning, hungry, lone, 
I looked in windows, for the wealth 
I could not hope to own. 

I did not know the ample bread, 
'T was so unlike the crumb 
The birds and I had often shared 
In Nature's dining-room. 



POEMS. 77 

The plenty hurt me, 't was so new, 
Myself felt ill and odd, 
As berry of a mountain bush 
Transplanted to the road. 

Nor was I hungry ; so I found 
That hunger was a way 
Of persons outside windows, 
The entering takes away. 



I 



POEMS. 



LI. 

GAINED it so, 

By climbing slow, 
By catching at the twigs that grow- 
Between the bliss and me. 
It hung so high, 
As well the sky 
Attempt by strategy. 

I said I gained it, 

This was all. 
Look, how I clutch it, 

Lest it fall, 
And I a pauper go ; 
Unfitted by an instant's grace 
For the contented beggar's face 
I wore an hour ago. 



POEMS. 79 



LIL 

' I 'O learn the transport by the pain. 

As blind men learn the sun : 
To die of thirst, suspecting 
That brooks in meadows run ; 

To stay the homesick, homesick feet 
Upon a foreign shore 
Haunted by native lands, the while, 
And blue, beloved air 

This is the sovereign anguish, 
This, the signal woe ! 
These are the patient laureates 
Whose voices, trained below, 

Ascend in ceaseless carol, 
Inaudible, indeed, 
To us, the duller scholars 
Of the mysterious bard ! 



8o POEMS. 

LIII. 
RETURNING. 

T YEARS had been from home, 

And now, before the door, 
I dared no.t open, lest a face 
I never saw before 

Stare vacant into mine 
And ask my business there. 
My business, just a life I left, 
Was such still dwelling there ? 

I fumbled at my nerve, 
I scanned the windows near ; 
The silence like an ocean rolled, 
And broke against my ear. 

I laughed a wooden laugh 

That I could fear a door, 

Who danger and the dead had faced, 

But never quaked before. 



POEMS. 8 1 

I fitted to the latch 

My hand, with trembling care, 

Lest back the awful door should spring, 

And leave me standing there. 

I moved my fingers off 

As cautiously as glass, 

And held my ears, and like a thief 

Fled gasping from the house. 



82 POEMS. 



LIV. 
PRAYER. 

pRAYER is the little implement 

Through which men reach 
Where presence is denied them. 
They fling their speech 

By means of it in God's ear ; 
If then He hear, 
This sums the apparatus 
Comprised in prayer. 



POEMS. 83 



LV. 

T KNOW that he exists 

Somewhere, in silence. 
He has hid his rare life 
From our gross eyes. 

7 Tis an instant's play, 
? T is a fond ambush, 
Just to make bliss 
Earn her own surprise ! 

But should the play 
Prove piercing earnest, 
Should the glee glaze 
In death's stiff stare, 

Would not the fun 
Look too expensive ? 
Would not the jest 
Have crawled too far? 



84 POEMS. 

LVI. 
MELODIES UNHEARD. 

A/T USICIANS wrestle everywhere : 

All day, among the crowded air, 

I hear the silver strife ; 
And waking long before the dawn 
Such transport breaks upon the town 

I think it that " new life ! " 

It is not bird, it has no nest ; 

Nor band, in brass and scarlet dressed, 

Nor tambourine, nor man ; 
It is not hymn from pulpit read, 
The morning stars the treble led 

On time's first afternoon ! 

Some say it is the spheres at play ! 
Some say that bright majority 

Of vanished dames and men ! 
Some think it service in the place 
Where we, with late, celestial face, 

Please God, shall ascertain ! 



POEMS. 85 

LVII. 
CALLED BACK. 

JUST lost when I was saved ! 
Just felt the world go by ! 
Just girt me for the onset with eternity, 
When breath blew back, 
And on the other side 
I heard recede the disappointed tide ! 

Therefore, as one returned, I feel, 
Odd secrets of the line to tell ! 
Some sailor, skirting foreign shores, 
Some pale reporter from the awful doors 
Before the seal ! 

Next time, to stay ! 
Next time, the things to see 
By ear unheard, 
Unscrutinized by eye. 



86 POEMS. 



Next time, to tarry, 
While the ages steal, 
Slow tramp the centuries, 
And the cycles wheel. 



II. 

LOVE. 



POEMS. 89 



I. 

CHOICE. 

all the souls that stand create 

I have elected one. 
When sense from spirit files away, 
And subterfuge is done ; 

When that which is and that which was 

Apart, intrinsic, stand, 

And this brief tragedy of flesh 

Is shifted like a sand ; 

When figures show their royal front 
And mists are carved away, 
Behold the atom I preferred 
To all the lists of clay ! 



9 



POEMS. 



II. 

T HAVE no life but this, 

To lead it here ; 
Nor any death, but lest 
Dispelled from there ; 

Nor tie to earths to come, 
Nor action new, 
Except through this extent, 
The realm of you. 



POEMS. 91 



III. 

\7OUR riches taught me poverty. 

Myself a millionnaire 
In little wealths, as girls could boast, 
Till broad as Buenos Ayre, 

You drifted your dominions 
A different Peru ; 
And I esteemed all poverty, 
For life's estate with you. 

Of mines I little know, myself, 
But just the names of gems, 
The colors of the commonest ; 
And scarce of diadems 

So much that, did I meet the queen, 
Her glory I should know : 
But this must be a different wealth, 
To miss it beggars so. 



9 2 



FORMS. 

I 'm sure 't is India all day 
To those who look on you 
Without a stint, without a blame, 
Might 1 but be the Jew ! 

I 'm sure it is Golconda, 
Beyond my power to deem, 
To have a smile for mine each day, 
How better than a gem ! 

At least, it solaces to know 
That there exists a gold, 
Although I prove it just in time 
Its distance to behold ! 

It 's far, far treasure to surmise, 
And estimate the pearl 
That slipped my simple fingers through 
While just a girl at school ! 



POEMS. 93 

IV. 

THE CONTRACT. 

T GAVE myself to him, 

And took himself for pay. 
The solemn contract of a life 
Was ratified this way. 

The wealth might disappoint, 
Myself a poorer prove 
Than this great purchaser suspect : 
The daily own of Love 

Depreciates the vision ; 
But, till the merchant buy, 
Still fable, in the isles of spice, 
The subtle cargoes lie. 

At least, 't is mutual risk, 

Some found it mutual gain ; 

Sweet debt of Life, each night to owe, 

Insolvent, every noon. 



94 POEMS. 



V. 
THE LETTER. 

OING to him ! Happy letter ! Tell him - 

Tell him the page I did n't write ; 
Tell him I only said the syntax, 
And left the verb and the pronoun out. 
Tell him just how the fingers hurried, 
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow ; 
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages, 
So you could see what moved them so. 

" Tell him it was n't a practised writer, 

You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled ; 

You could hear the bodice tug, behind you, 

As if it held but the might of a child ; 

You almost pitied it, you, it worked so. 

Tell him No, you may quibble there, 

For it would split his heart to know it, 

And then you and I were silenter. 



POEMS. 

" Tell him night finished before we finished, 
And the old clock kept neighing ' day ! ' 
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended 
What could it hinder so, to say? 
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious, 
But if he ask where you are hid 
Until to-morrow, happy letter ! 
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head ! " 



96 POEMS. 



VI. 

T^HE way I read a letter 's this : 
* T is first I lock the door, 
And push it with my fingers next, 
For transport it be sure. 

And then I go the furthest off 
To counteract a knock ; 
Then draw my little letter forth 
And softly pick its lock. 

Then, glancing narrow at the wall, 
And narrow at the floor, 
For firm conviction of a mouse 
Not exorcised before, 

Peruse how infinite I am 

To no one that you know ! 

And sigh for lack of heaven, but not 

The heaven the creeds bestow. 



POEMS. 



VII. 

T 17 ILD nights ! Wild nights ! 
VV Were I with thee, 
Wild nights should be 
Our luxury ! 

Futile the winds 
To a heart in port, 
Done with the compass, 
Done with the chart 

Rowing in Eden ! 
Ah ! the sea ! 
Might I but moor 
To-night in thee ! 



9 8 



POEMS. 



VIII. 
AT HOME. 

'"THE night was wide, and furnished scant 

With but a single star, 
That often as a cloud it met 
Blew out itself for fear. 

The wind pursued the little bush, 
And drove away the leaves 
November left ; then clambered up 
And fretted in the eaves. 

No squirrel went abroad ; 

A dog's belated feet 

Like intermittent plush were heard 

Adown the empty street. 



POEMS. 

To feel if blinds be fast, 
And closer to the fire 
Her little rocking-chair to draw, 
And shiver for the poor, 

The housewife's gentle task. 
" How pleasanter," said she 
Unto the sofa opposite, 
" The sleet than May no thee 



99 



ioo POEMS. 



IX. 

POSSESSION. 

"P\ID the harebell loose her girdle 

To the lover bee, 
Would the bee the harebell hallow 
Much as formerly? 

Did the paradise, persuaded, 
Yield her moat of pearl, 
Would the Eden be an Eden, 
Or the earl an earl ? 



POEMS. 10 1 



X. 



A CHARM invests a face 
** Imperfectly beheld, 
The lady dare not lift her veil 
For fear it be dispelled. 

But peers beyond her mesh, 
And wishes, and denies, 
Lest interview annul a want 
That image satisfies. 



102 POEMS. 

XL 



THE LOVERS. 

HP HE rose did caper on her cheek, 
* Her bodice rose and fell, 
Her pretty speech, like drunken men, 
Did stagger pitiful. 

Her fingers fumbled at her work, 
Her needle would not go ; 
What ailed so smart a little maid 
It puzzled me to know, 

Till opposite I spied a cheek 
That bore another rose ; 
Just opposite, another speech 
That like the drunkard goes ; 

A vest that, like the bodice, danced 
To the immortal tune, 
Till those two troubled little clocks 
Ticked softly into one. 



POEMS. 103 



XII. 

TN lands I never saw, they say, 
-*- Immortal Alps look down, 
Whose bonnets touch the firmament, 
Whose sandals touch the town, - 

Meek at whose everlasting feet 
A myriad daisies play. 
Which, sir, are you, and which am I, 
Upon an August day? 



10 4 POEMS. 



XIII. 

HPHE moon is distant from the sea, 
" And yet with amber hands 
She leads him, docile as a boy, 
Along appointed sands. 

He never misses a degree ; 
Obedient to her eye, 
He comes just so far toward the town, 
Just so far goes away. 

Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand, 
And mine the distant sea, 
Obedient to the least command 
Thine eyes impose on me. 



POEMS. 



XIV. 

IT E put the belt around my life, 

I heard the buckle snap, 
And turned away, imperial, 
My lifetime folding up 
Deliberate, as a duke would do 
A kingdom's title-deed, 
Henceforth a dedicated sort, 
A member of the cloud. 

Yet not too far to come at call, 
And do the little toils 
That make the circuit of the rest, 
And deal occasional smiles 
To lives that stoop to notice mine 
And kindly ask it in, 
Whose invitation, knew you not 
For whom I must decline ? 



106 POEMS. 



XV. 

THE LOST JEWEL. 

T HELD a jewel in my fingers 

And went to sleep. 

The day was warm, and winds were prosy ; 
I said: "'T will keep." 

I woke and chid my honest fingers, 
The gem was gone ; 
And now an amethyst remembrance 
Is all I own. 



POEMS. 



107 



XVI. 

"\ I J HAT if I say I shall not wait? 

* What if I burst the fleshly gate 
And pass, escaped, to thee? 
What if I file this mortal off, 
See where it hurt me, that 's enough, 
And wade in liberty ? 

They cannot take us any more, 

Dungeons may call, and guns implore ; 

Unmeaning now, to me, 

As laughter was an hour ago, 

Or laces, or a travelling show, 

Or who died yesterday ! 



III. 

NATURE. 



POEMS. 

I. 
MOTHER NATURE. 

TVT ATURE, the gentlest mother, 

Impatient of no child, 
The feeblest or the waywardest, 
Her admonition mild 

In forest and the hill 
By traveller is heard, 
Restraining rampant squirrel 
Or too impetuous bird. 

How fair her conversation, 
A summer afternoon, 
Her household, her assembly ; 
And when the sun goes down 

Her voice among the aisles 
Incites the timid prayer 
Of the minutest cricket, 
The most unworthy flower. 



in 



j 2 POEMS. 

When all the children sleep 
She turns as long away 
As will suffice to light her lamps ; 
Then, bending from the sky 

With infinite affection 
And infmiter care, 
Her golden finger on her lip, 
Wills silence everywhere. 



POEMS. 113 



II. 
OUT OF THE MORNING. 

\\ 7TLL there really be a morning? 
Is there such a thing as day? 
Could I see it from the mountains 
If I were as tall as they? 

Has it feet like water-lilies? 
Has it feathers like a bird? 
Is it brought from famous countries 
Of which I have never heard ? 

Oh, some scholar ! Oh, some sailor ! 
Oh, some wise man from the skies ! 
Please to tell a little pilgrim 
Where the place called morning lies ! 



8 



U4 POEMS. 



III. 



A 



T half-past three a single bird 

Unto a silent sky 
Propounded but a single term 
Of cautious melody. 



At half-past four, experiment 
Had subjugated test, 
And lo ! her silver principle 
Supplanted all the rest. 

At half-past seven, element 

Nor implement was seen, 

And place was where the presence was, 

Circumference between. 



POEMS. 

IV. 
DAY'S PARLOR. 

E day came slow, till five o'clock, 
Then sprang before the hills 

Like hindered rubies, or the light 

A sudden musket spills. 

The purple could not keep the east, 
The sunrise shook from fold, 
Like breadths of topaz, packed a night, 
The lady just unrolled. 

The happy winds their timbrels took ; 
The birds, in docile rows, 
Arranged themselves around their prince 
(The wind is prince of those). 

The orchard sparkled like a Jew, 
How mighty 't was, to stay 
A guest in this stupendous place, 
The parlor of the day ! 



n6 POEMS. 



V. 

THE SUN'S WOOING. 

HPHE sun just touched the morning; 

The morning, happy thing, 
Supposed that he had come to dwell, 
And life would be all spring. 

She felt herself supremer, 
A raised, ethereal thing ; 
Henceforth for her what holiday ! 
Meanwhile, her wheeling king 

Trailed slow along the orchards 
His haughty, spangled hems, 
Leaving a new necessity, 
The want of diadems ! 

The morning fluttered, staggered, 
Felt feebly for her crown, 
Her unanointed forehead 
Henceforth her only one. 



POEMS. 

VI. 
THE ROBIN. 

r I^HE robin is the one 

That interrupts the morn 
With hurried, few, express reports 
When March is scarcely on. 

The robin is the one 
That overflows the noon 
With her cherubic quantity, 
An April but begun. 

The robin is the one 
That speechless from her nest 
Submits that home and certainty 
And sanctity are best. 



117 



POEMS 

VII. 
THE BUTTERFLY'S DAY. 

T^ROM cocoon forth a butterfly 

As lady from her door 
Emerged a summer afternoon 
Repairing everywhere, 

Without design, that I could trace, 
Except to stray abroad 
On miscellaneous enterprise 
The clovers understood. 

Her pretty parasol was seen 

Contracting in a field 

Where men made hay, then struggling hard 

With an opposing cloud, 

Where parties, phantom as herself, 
To Nowhere seemed to go 
In purposeless circumference, 
As 't were a tropic show. 



POEMS. 

And notwithstanding bee that worked, 
And flower that zealous blew, 
This audience of idleness 
Disdained them, from the sky, 

Till sundown crept, a steady tide, 
And men that made the hay, 
And afternoon, and butterfly, 
Extinguished in its sea. 



120 POEMS. 

VIII. 

THE BLUEBIRD. 

OEFORE you thought of spring, 

Except as a surmise, 
You see, God bless his suddenness, 
A fellow in the skies 
Of independent hues, 
A little weather-worn, 
Inspiriting habiliments 
Of indigo and brown. 

With specimens of song, 
As if for you to choose, 
Discretion in the interval, 
With gay delays he goes 
To some superior tree 
Without a single leaf, 
And shouts for joy to nobody 
But his seraphic self ! 



POEMS. 1 2 1 

IX. 
APRIL. 

A N altered look about the hills ; 
**- A Tyrian light the village fills ; 
A wider sunrise in the dawn ; 
A deeper twilight on the lawn ; 
A print of a vermilion foot ; 
A purple finger on the slope ; 
A flippant fly upon the pane ; 
A spider at his trade again ; 
An added strut in chanticleer ; 
A flower expected everywhere ; 
An axe shrill singing in the woods ; 
Fern-odors on untravelled roads, 
All this, and more I cannot tell, 
A furtive look you know as well, 
And Nicodemus' mystery 
Receives its annual reply. 



122 POEMS. 

X. 

THE SLEEPING FLOWERS. 

r HOSE are the little beds," I asked, 

"Which in the valleys lie?" 
Some shook their heads, and others smiled, 
And no one made reply. 

"Perhaps they did not hear," I said ; 
" I will inquire again. 
Whose are the beds, the tiny beds 
So thick upon the plain? " 

" T is daisy in the shortest ; 
A little farther on, 
Nearest the door to wake the first, 
Little leontodon. 

" T is iris, sir, and aster, 
Anemone and bell, 
Batschia in the blanket red, 
And chubby daffodil." 



POEMS. I23 



Meanwhile at many cradles 
Her busy foot she plied, 
Humming the quaintest lullaby 
That ever rocked a child. 

" Hush ! Epigea wakens ! 
The crocus stirs her lids, 
Rhodora's cheek is crimson, 
She 's dreaming of the woods." 

Then, turning from them, reverent, 
"Their bed-time 'tis," she said; 
" The bumble-bees will wake them 
When April woods are red." 



I2 4 POEMS. 

XI. 

MY ROSE. 

T)IGMY seraphs gone astray, 

Velvet people from Vevay, 
Belles from some lost summer day, 
Bees' exclusive coterie. 
Paris could not lay the fold 
Belted down with emerald ; 
Venice could not show a cheek 
Of a tint so lustrous meek. 
Never such an ambuscade 
As of brier and leaf displayed 
For my little damask maid. 
I had rather wear her grace 
Than an earl's distinguished face ; 
I had rather dwell like her 
Than be Duke of Exeter 
Royalty enough for me 
To subdue the bumble-bee ! 



POEMS. 

XII. 

THE ORIOLE'S SECRET. 

'"PO hear an oriole sing 

May be a common thing, 
Or only a divine. 

It is not of the bird 

Who sings the same, unheard, 

As unto crowd. 

The fashion, of the ear 
Attireth that it hear 
In dun or fair. 

So whether it be rune, 
Or whether it be none, 
Is of within ; 

The " tune is in the tree," 
The sceptic showeth me ; 
" No, sir ! In thee ! " 



I2 5 



I2 6 POEMS. 

XIII. 
THE ORIOLE. 

/^\NE of the ones that Midas touched, 
^ Who failed to touch us all, 
Was that confiding prodigal, 
The blissful oriole. 

So drunk, he disavows it 
With badinage divine j 
So dazzling, we mistake him 
For an alighting mine. 

A pleader, a dissembler, 
An epicure, a thief, 
Betimes an oratorio, 
An ecstasy in chief ; 

The Jesuit of orchards, 
He cheats as he enchants 
Of an entire attar 
For his decamping wants. 



POEMS. 

The splendor of a Burmah, 
The meteor of birds, 
Departing like a pageant 
Of ballads and of bards. 

I never thought that Jason sought 
For any golden fleece ; 
But then I am a rural man, 
With thoughts that make for peace. 

But if there were a Jason, 
Tradition suffer me 
Behold his lost emolument 
Upon the apple tree. 



I2 8 POEMS. 

XIV. 
IN SHADOW. 

T DREADED that first robin so, 

But he is mastered now, 
And I 'm accustomed to him grown, 
He hurts a little, though. 

I thought if I could only live 
Till that first shout got by, 
Not all pianos in the woods 
Had power to mangle me. 

I dared not meet the daffodils, 
For fear their yellow gown 
Would pierce me with a fashion 
So foreign to my own. 

I wished the grass would hurry, 
So when 'twas time to see, 
He 'd be too tall, the tallest one 
Could stretch to look at me. 



POEMS. I29 

I could not bear the bees should come, 
I wished they 'd stay away 
In those dim countries where they go : 
What word had they for me ? 

They 're here, though ; not a creature failed, 
No blossom stayed away 
In gentle deference to me, 
The Queen of Calvary. 

Each one salutes me as he goes, 
And I my childish plumes 
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment 
Of their unthinking drums. 



i 3 o 



POEMS. 



XV. 
THE HUMMING-BIRD. 

A ROUTE of evanescence 

With a revolving wheel ; 
A resonance of emerald. 
A rush of cochineal ; 
And every blossom on the bush 
Adjusts its tumbled head, 
The mail from Tunis, probably, 
An easy morning's ride. 



POEMS. I3I 



XVI. 
SECRETS. 

HPHE skies can't keep their secret ! 
* They tell it to the hills - 
The hills just tell the orchards 
And they the daffodils ! 

A bird, by chance, that goes that way 
Soft overheard the whole. 
If I should bribe the little bird, 
Who knows but she would tell ? 

I think I won't, however, 
It 's finer not to know ; 
If summer were an axiom, 
What sorcery had snow? 

So keep your secret, Father ! 

I would not, if I could, 

Know what the sapphire fellows do, 

In your new-fashioned world ! . 



132 POEMS. 



XVII. 

"\1THO robbed the woods, 
The trusting woods ? 
The unsuspecting trees 
Brought out their burrs and mosses 
His fantasy to please. 
He scanned their trinkets, curious, 
He grasped, he bore away. 
What will the solemn hemlock, 
What will the fir-tree say? 



POEMS. 133 

XVIII. 
TWO VOYAGERS. 

*"PWO butterflies went out at noon 

And waltzed above a stream, 
Then stepped straight through the firmament 
And rested on a beam ; 

And then together bore away 
Upon a shining sea, 
Though never yet, in any port. 
Their coming mentioned be. 

If spoken by the distant bird, 
If met in ether sea 
By frigate or by merchantman, 
Report was not to me. 



134 POEMS. 

XIX. 
BY THE SEA. 

J STARTED early, took my dog, 

And visited the sea ; 
The mermaids in the basement 
Came out to look at me, 

And frigates in the upper floor 
Extended hempen hands, 
Presuming me to be a mouse 
Aground, upon the sands. 

But no man moved me till the tide 
Went past my simple shoe, 
And past my apron and my belt, 
And past my bodice too, 

And made as he would eat me up 
As wholly as a dew 
Upon a dandelion's sleeve 
And then I started too. 



POEMS. 135 

And he he followed close behind ; 
I felt his silver heel 
Upon my ankle, then my shoes 
Would overflow with pearl. 

Until we met the solid town, 
No man he seemed to know ; 
And bowing with a mighty look 
At me, the sea withdrew. 



136 POEMS. 

XX. 

OLD-FASHIONED. 

A RCTURUS is his other name, 
^^ I 'd rather call him star ! 
It 's so unkind of science 
To go and interfere ! 

I pull a flower from the woods, 
A monster with a glass 
Computes the stamens in a breath, 
And has her in a class. 

Whereas I took the butterfly 
Aforetime in my hat, 
He sits erect in cabinets, 
The clover-bells forgot. 

What once was heaven, is zenith now. 
Where I proposed to go 
When time's brief masquerade was done, 
Is mapped, and charted too ! 



POEMS. ^ 

What if the poles should frisk about 
And stand upon their heads ! 
I hope I 'm ready for the worst, 
Whatever prank betides ! 

Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven 's changed ! 
I hope the children there 
Won't be new-fashioned when I come, 
And laugh at me, and stare ! 

I hope the father in the skies 
Will lift his little girl, - 
Old-fashioned, naughty, everything, 
Over the stile of pearl ! 



138 POEMS. 

XXI. 
A TEMPEST. 

A N awful tempest mashed the air, 

The clouds were gaunt and few ; 
A black, as of a spectre's cloak, 
Hid heaven and earth from view. 

The creatures chuckled on the roofs 

And whistled in the air, 

And shook their fists and gnashed their teeth, 

And swung their frenzied hair. 

The morning lit, the birds arose ; 
The monster's faded eyes 
Turned slowly to his native coast, 
And peace was Paradise ! 



POEMS. 



XXII. 
THE SEA. 

A N everywhere of silver, 

With ropes of sand 
To keep it from effacing 
The track called land. 



140 



POEMS. 



XXIII. 
IN THE GARDEN. 

A BIRD came down the walk : 
x He did not know I saw ; 
He bit an angle-worm in halves 
And ate the fellow, raw. 

And then he drank a dew 

From a convenient grass, 

And then hopped sidewise to the wall 

To let a beetle pass. 

He glanced with rapid eyes 

That hurried all abroad, 

They looked like frightened beads, I thought 

He stirred his velvet head 



POEMS. 141 



Like one in danger ; cautious, 
I offered him a crumb, 
And he unrolled his feathers 
And rowed him softer home 

Than oars divide the ocean, 
Too silver for a seam, 
Or butterflies, off banks of noon, 
Leap, plashless, as they swim. 



T 4 2 POEMS. 

XXIV. 
THE SNAKE. 

A NARROW fellow in the grass 

Occasionally rides ; 

You may have met him, did you not, 
His notice sudden is. 

The grass divides as with a comb, 
A spotted shaft is seen ; 
And then it closes at your feet 
And opens further on. 

He likes a boggy acre, 
A floor too cool for corn. 
Yet when a child, and barefoot, 
I more than once, at morn, 

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash 
Unbraiding in the sun, 
When, stooping to secure it, 
It wrinkled, and was gone. 



POEMS. 

Several of nature's people 
I know, and they know me ; 
I feel for them a transport 
Of cordiality; 

But never met this fellow, 
Attended or alone, 
Without a tighter breathing, 
And zero at the bone. 



144 POEMS. 



XXV. 
THE MUSHROOM. 



n^HE mushroom is the elf of plants, 

At evening it is not ; 
At morning in a truffled hut 
It stops upon a spot 

As if it tarried always ; 
And yet its whole career. 
Is shorter than a snake's delay, 
And fleeter than a tare. 



T is vegetation's juggler, 
The germ of alibi ; 
Doth like a bubble . antedate, 
And like a bubble hie. 



POEMS. I45 

I feel as if the grass were pleased 
To have it intermit ; 
The surreptitious scion 
Of summer 's circumspect. 

Had nature any outcast face, 
Could she a son contemn, 
Had nature an Iscariot, 
That mushroom, it is him. 



10 



146 POEMS. 

XXVI. 
THE STORM. 

' I "HERE came a wind like a bugle ; 

It quivered through the grass, 
And a green chill upon the heat 
So ominous did pass 
We barred the windows and the doors 
As from an emerald ghost ; 
The doom's electric moccason 
That very instant passed. 
On a strange mob of panting trees, 
And fences fled away, 
And rivers where the houses ran 
The living looked that day. 
The bell within the steeple wild 
The flying tidings whirled. 
How much can come 
And much can go, 
And yet abide the world ! 



POEMS. 



XXVII. 
THE SPIDER. 

A SPIDER sewed at night 
-** Without a light 
Upon an arc of white. 
If ruff it was of dame 
Or shroud of gnome, 
Himself, himself inform. 
Of immortality 
His strategy 
Was physiognomy. 



I4 8 POEMS. 



XXVIII. 

T KNOW a place where summer strives 

With such a practised frost, 
She each year leads her daisies back, 
Recording briefly, "Lost." 

But when the south wind stirs the pools 
And struggles in the lanes, 
Her heart misgives her for her vow, 
And she pours soft refrains 

Into the lap of adamant, 
And spices, and the dew, 
That stiffens quietly to quartz, 
Upon her amber shoe. 



POEMS. 149 



XXIX. 

r T^HE one that could repeat the summer day 

Were greater than itself, though he 
Minutest of mankind might be. 
And who could reproduce the sun, 
At period of going down 
The lingering and the stain, I mean 
When Orient has been outgrown, 
And Occident becomes unknown, 
His name remain. 



i 5 o POEMS. 



XXX. 
THE WIND'S VISIT. 

'"THE wind tapped like a tired man, 
* And like a host, " Come in," 
I boldly answered ; entered then 
My residence within 



A rapid, footless guest, 
To offer whom a chair 
Were as impossible as hand 
A sofa to the air. 

No bone had he to bind him, 
His speech was like the push 
Of numerous humming-birds at once 
From a superior bush. 



POEMS. 

His countenance a billow, 
His fingers, if he pass, 
Let go a music, as of tunes 
Blown tremulous in glass. 

He visited, still flitting ; 

Then, like a timid man, 

Again he tapped 't was flurriedly 

And I became alone. 



T 5 



POEMS. 



XXXI. 

TVT ATURE rarer uses yellow 

Than another hue ; 
Saves she all of that for sunsets, 
Prodigal of blue, 

Spending scarlet like a woman, 

Yellow she affords 
Only scantly and selectly, 

Like a lover's words. 



POEMS. 



153 



XXXII. 
GOSSIP. 



HPHE leaves, like women, interchange 

Sagacious confidence ; 
Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of 
Portentous inference, 

The parties in both cases 

Enjoining secrecy, 
Inviolable compact 

To notoriety. 



154 POEMS. 

XXXIII. 
SIMPLICITY. 

TTOW happy is the little stone 

That rambles in the road alon: 
And does n't care about careers, 
And exigencies never fears ; 
Whose coat of elemental brown 
A passing universe put on ; 
And independent as the sun, 
Associates or glows alone, 
Fulfilling absolute decree 
In casual simplicity. 



POEMS. 155 



XXXIV. 
STORM. 

TT sounded as if the streets were running, 

And then the streets stood still. 
Eclipse was all we could see at the window, 
And awe- was all we could feel. 

By and by the boldest stole out of his covert, 
To see if time was there. 
Nature was in her beryl apron, 
Mixing fresher air. 



156 POEMS. 

XXXV. 
THE RAT. 



'HPHE rat is the concisest tenant. 

He pays no rent, 
Repudiates the obligation, 
On schemes intent. 



Balking our wit 
To sound or circumvent, 
Hate cannot harm 
A foe so reticent. 

Neither decree 
Prohibits him, 
Lawful as 
Equilibrium. 



POEMS. 



XXXVI. 

T^REQUENTLY the woods are pink, 

Frequently are brown ; 
Frequently the hills undress 
Behind my native town. 

Oft a head is crested 
I was wont to see, 
And as oft a cranny 
Where it used to be. 

And the earth, they tell me, 
On its axis turned, 
Wonderful rotation 
By but twelve performed ! 



158 POEMS. 



XXXVII. 
A THUNDER-STORM. 

HTHE wind begun to rock the grass 
A With threatening tunes and low, 
He flung a menace at the earth, 
A menace at the sky. 

The leaves unhooked themselves from trees 
And started all abroad ; 
The dust did scoop itself like hands 
And throw away the road. 

The wagons quickened on the streets, 
The thunder hurried slow ; 
The lightning showed a yellow beak, 
And then a livid claw. 



POEMS. 159 



The birds put up the bars to nests, 
The cattle fled to barns ; 
There came one drop of giant rain, 
And then, as if the hands 

That held the darns had parted hold, 
The waters wrecked the sky. 
But overlooked my father's house, 
Just quartering a tree. 



POEMS. 



XXXVIII. 

WITH FLOWERS. 

OOUTH winds jostle them, 
^ Bumblebees come, 
Hover, hesitate, 
Drink, and are gone. 

Butterflies pause 
On their passage Cashmere ; 
I, softly plucking, 
Present them here ! 



POEMS. 



XXXIX. 
SUNSET. 

\~\ 7 HERE ships of purple gently toss 

On seas of daffodil, 
Fantastic sailors mingle, 
And then the wharf is still. 



ii 



POEMS. 



XL. 

OHE sweeps with many-colored brooms, 

And leaves the shreds behind ; 
Oh, housewife in the evening west, 
Come back, and dust the pond ! 

You dropped a purple ravelling in, 
You dropped an amber thread ; 
And now you Ve littered all the East 
With duds of emerald ! 

And still she plies her spotted brooms, 
And still the aprons fly, 
Till brooms fade softly into stars 
And then I come away. 



POEMS. 163 



XLI. 

T IKE mighty footlights burned the red 
^"^ At bases of the trees, 
The far theatricals of day 
Exhibiting to these. 

'T was universe that did applaud 
While, chiefest of the crowd, 
Enabled by his royal dress, 
Myself distinguished God. 



l64 POEMS. 



XLII. 
PROBLEMS. 

T) RING me the sunset in a cup, 

Reckon the morning's flagons up, 

And say how many dew ; 
Tell me how far the morning leaps, 
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps 

Who spun the breadths of blue ! 

Write me how many notes there be 
In the new robin's ecstasy 

Among astonished boughs ; 
How many trips the tortoise makes, 
How many cups the bee partakes, 

The debauchee of dews ! 



POEMS. 165 

Also, who laid the rainbow's piers, 
Also, who leads the docile spheres 

By withes of supple blue ? 
Whose fingers string the stalactite, 
Who counts the wampum of the night, 

To see that none is due ? 

Who built this little Alban house 
And shut the windows down so close 

My spirit cannot see ? 
Who '11 let me out some gala day, 
With implements to fly away, 

Passing pomposity? 



1 66 POEMS. 



XLIII. 
THE JUGGLER OF DAY. 

"D LAZING in gold and quenching in purple, 

Leaping like leopards to the sky, 
Then at the feet of the old horizon 
Laying her spotted face, to die ; 

Stooping as low as the otter's window, 
Touching the roof and tinting the barn, 
Kissing her bonnet to the meadow, 
And the juggler of day is gone ! 



POEMS. 167 

XLIV. 
MY CRICKET. 

T7ARTHER in summer than the birds, 

Pathetic from the grass, 
A minor nation celebrates 
Its unobtrusive mass. 

No ordinance is seen, 

So gradual the grace, 

A pensive custom it becomes, 

Enlarging loneliness. 

Antiquest felt at noon 
When August, burning low, 
Calls forth this spectral canticle, 
Repose to typify. 

Remit as yet no grace, 
No furrow on the glow, 
Yet a druidic difference 
Enhances nature now. 



1 68 POEMS. 



XLV. 

A S imperceptibly as grief 

The summer lapsed away, 
Too imperceptible, at last, 
To seem like perfidy. 

A quietness distilled, 

As twilight long begun, 

Or Nature, spending with herself 

Sequestered afternoon. 

The dusk drew earlier in, 
The morning foreign shone, 
A courteous, yet harrowing grace, 
As guest who would be gone. 

And thus, without a wing, 

Or service of a keel, 

Our summer made her light escape 

Into the beautiful. 



POEMS, 169 



XLVI. 

T T can't be summer, that got through ; 
* It 's early yet for spring ; 
There 's that long town of white to cross 
Before the blackbirds sing. 

It can't be dying, it 's too rouge, 
The dead shall go in white. 
So sunset shuts my question down 
With clasps of chrysolite. 



iyo POEMS. 



XLVII. 
SUMMER'S OBSEQUIES. 

HPHE gentian weaves her fringes, 
* The maple's loom is red. 
My departing blossoms 
Obviate parade. 

A brief, but patient illness, 
An hour to prepare ; 
And one, below this morning, 
Is where the angels are. 

It was a short procession, 
The bobolink was there, 
An aged bee addressed us, 
And then we knelt in prayer. 



POEMS. 

We trust that she was willing, 
We ask that we may be. 
Summer, sister, seraph, 
Let us go with thee ! 

In the name of the bee 
And of the butterfly 
And of the breeze, amen ! 



172 POEMS. 

XLVIII. 

FRINGED GENTIAN. 

/^*OD made a little gentian ; 

^* It tried to be a rose 

And failed, and all the summer laughed. 

But just before the snows 

There came a purple creature 

That ravished all the hill ; 

And summer hid her forehead, 

And mockery was still. 

The frosts were her condition ; 

The Tyrian would not come 

Until the North evoked it. 

"Creator! shall I bloom?" 



POEMS. 173 

XL1X. 
NOVEMBER. 

"DESIDES the autumn poets sing, 

A few prosaic days 
A little this side of the snow 
And that side of the haze. 

A few incisive mornings, 
A few ascetic eves, 
Gone Mr. Bryant's golden-rod, 
And Mr. Thomson's sheaves. 

Still is the bustle in the brook, 
Sealed are the spicy valves ; 
Mesmeric fingers softly touch 
The eyes of many elves. 

Perhaps a squirrel may remain, 
My sentiments to share. 
Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind, 
Thy windy will to bear ! 



174 POEMS. 



THE SNOW. 

T T sifts from leaden sieves, 
It powders all the wood, 
It fills with alabaster wool 
The wrinkles of the road. 

It makes an even face 
Of mountain and of plain, 
Unbroken forehead from the east 
Unto the east again. 

It reaches to the fence, 
It wraps it, rail by rail, 
Till it is lost in fleeces ; 
It flings a crystal veil 



POEMS. 

On stump and stack and stem, 
The summer's empty room, 
Acres of seams where harvests were, 
Recordless, but for them. 

It ruffles wrists of posts, 

As ankles of a queen, 

Then stills its artisans like ghosts, 

Denying they have been. 



176 POEMS. 

LI 
THE BLUE JAY. 

TV[ O brigadier throughout the year 

So civic as the jay. 
A neighbor and a warrior too, 
With shrill felicity 

Pursuing winds that censure us 
A February day, 
The brother of the universe 
Was never blown away. 

The snow and he are intimate ; 
I 've often seen them play 
When heaven looked upon us all 
With such severity, 

I felt apology were due 

To an insulted sky, 

Whose pompous frown was nutriment 

To their temerity. 



POEMS. 

The pillow of this daring head 
Is pungent evergreens ; 
His larder terse and militant 
Unknown, refreshing things ; 

His character a tonic, 
His future a dispute ; 
Unfair an immortality 
That leaves this neighbor out. 



177 



12 



IV. 
TIME AND ETERNITY, 



POEMS. 181 



I. 

T ET down the bars, O Death ! 
* ' The tired flocks come in 
Whose bleating ceases to repeat, 
Whose wandering is done. 

Thine is the stillest night, 
Thine the securest fold ; 
Too near thou art for seeking thee, 
Too tender to be told. 



182 POEMS. 



II. 

r* OING to heaven ! 

I don't know when, 
Pray do not ask me how, 
Indeed, I 'm too astonished 
To think of answering you ! 
Going to heaven ! 
How dim it sounds ! 
And yet it will be done 
As sure as flocks go home at night 
Unto the shepherd's arm ! 

Perhaps you 're going too ! 
Who knows? 

If you should get there first, 
Save just a little place for me 
Close to the two I lost ! 



POEMS, !8 3 

The smallest " robe " will fit me, 

And just a bit of " crown ; " 

For you know we do not mind our dress 

When we are going home. 

I 'm glad I don't believe it, 

For it would stop my breath, 

And I 'd like to look a little more 

At such a curious earth ! 

I am glad they did believe it 

Whom I have never found 

Since the mighty autumn afternoon 

I left them in the ground. 



184 POEMS. 



III. 

A T least to pray is left, is left. 

O Jesus ! in the air 
I know not which thy chamber is, 
I 'm knocking everywhere. 

Thou stirrest earthquake in the South, 
And maelstrom in the sea ; 
Say, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, 
Hast thou no arm for me? 



POEMS, 



IV. 
EPITAPH. 



OTEP lightly on this narrow spot ! 
^ The broadest land that grows 
Is not so ample as the breast 
These emerald seams enclose. 



Step lofty ; for this name is told 
As far as cannon dwell, 
Or flag subsist, or fame export 
Her deathless syllable. 



i86 POEMS. 



V. 



A/TORN S like these we parted \ 
Noons like these she rose, 
Fluttering first, then firmer, 
To her fair repose. 

Never did she lisp it, 
And 't was not for me ; 
She was mute from transport, 
I, from agony ! 

Till the evening, nearing, 
One the shutters drew 
Quick ! a sharper rustling ! 
And this linnet flew ! 



POEMS. 187 



VI. 



A DEATH-BLOW is a life-blow to some 
*** Who, till they died, did not alive become ; 
Who, had they lived, had died, but when 
They died, vitality begun. 



1 88 POEMS. 



VII. 

T READ my sentence steadily, 
Reviewed it with my eyes, 
To see that I made no mistake 
In its extremest clause, 



The date, and manner of the shame ; 
And then the pious form 
That " God have mercy " on the soul 
The jury voted him. 

I made my soul familiar 
With her extremity, 
That at the last it should not be 
A novel agony, 

But she and Death, acquainted, 
Meet tranquilly as friends, 
Salute and pass without a hint 
And there the matter ends. 



POEMS. 189 



VIII. 

T HAVE not told my garden yet, 
Lest that should conquer me ; 
I have not quite the strength now 
To break it to the bee. 

I will not name it in the street, 
For shops would stare, that I, 
So shy, so very ignorant, 
Should have the face to die. 

The hillsides must not know it, 
Where' I have rambled so, 
Nor tell the loving forests 
The day that I shall go, 

Nor lisp it at the table, 
Nor heedless by the way 
Hint that within the riddle 
One will walk to-day ! 



190 POEMS. 



IX. 
THE BATTLE-FIELD. 

dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars, 
Like petals from a rose, 
When suddenly across the June 
A wind with fingers goes. 

They perished in the seamless grass, 

No eye could find the place ; 
But God on his repealless list 

Can summon every face. 



POEMS. I9I 



X. 



T^HE only ghost I ever saw 

Was dressed in mechlin, so ; 
He wore no sandal on his foot, 
And stepped like flakes of snow. 
His gait was soundless, like the bird, 
But rapid, like the roe ; 
His fashions quaint, mosaic, 
Or, haply, mistletoe. 

His conversation seldom, 
His laughter like the breeze 
That dies away in dimples 
Among the pensive trees. 
Our interview was transient, 
Of me, himself was shy ; 
And God forbid I look behind 
Since that appalling day ! 



1 92 POEMS. 



XL 

OOME, too fragile for winter winds, 
The thoughtful grave encloses, 
Tenderly tucking them in from frost 
Before their feet are cold. 

Never the treasures in her nest 
The cautious grave exposes, 
Building where schoolboy dare not look 
And sportsman is not bold. 

This covert have all the children 
Early aged, and often cold, 
Sparrows unnoticed by the Father ; 
Lambs for whom time had not a fold. 



POEMS. 



'93 



XII. 

A S by the dead we love to sit, 
^^ Become so wondrous dear, 
As for the lost we grapple, 
Though all the rest are here, 

In broken mathematics 
We estimate our prize, 
Vast, in its fading ratio, 
To our penurious eyes ! 



194 



POEMS. 



XIII. 
MEMORIALS. 

T^\EATH sets a thing significant 

The eye had hurried by, 
Except a perished creature 
Entreat us tenderly 

To ponder little workmanships 

In crayon or in wool, 

With " This was last her fingers did," 

Industrious until 

The thimble weighed too heavy, 
The stitches stopped themselves, 
And then 't was put among the dust 
Upon the closet shelves. 



POEMS. 

A book I have, a friend gave, 

Whose pencil, here and there, 

Had notched the place that pleased him, 

At rest his fingers are. 

Now, when I read, I read not, 
For interrupting tears 
Obliterate the etchings 
Too costly for repairs. 



195 



,196 



POEMS. 



XIV. 

T WENT to heaven, 
'T was a small town, 
Lit with a ruby, 
Lathed with down. 
Stiller than the fields 
At the full dew, 
Beautiful as pictures 
No man drew. 
People like the moth, 
Of mechlin, frames, 
Duties of gossamer, 
And eider names. 
Almost contented 
I could be 
'Mong such unique 
Society. 



POEMS. 197 



XV. 

HPHEIR height in heaven comforts not, 
* Their glory nought to me ; 
'T was best imperfect, as it was ; 
I 'm finite, I can't see. 

The house of supposition, 
The glimmering frontier 
That skirts the acres of perhaps, 
To me shows insecure. 

The wealth I had contented me ; 
If 't was a meaner size, 
Then I had counted it until 
It pleased my narrow eyes 

Better than larger values, 
However true their show ; 
This timid life of evidence 
Keeps pleading, " I don't know." 



198 POEMS. 



XVI. 

r I "HERE is a shame of nobleness 

Confronting sudden pelf, 
A finer shame of ecstasy 
Convicted of itself. 

A best disgrace a brave man feels, 
Acknowledged of the brave, 
One more " Ye Blessed " to be told 
But this involves the grave. 



POEMS. 199 

XVII. 
TRIUMPH. 

'""TRIUMPH may be of several kinds. 
-*- There 's triumph in the room 
When that old imperator, Death, 
By faith is overcome. 

There 's triumph of the finer mind 
When truth, affronted long, 
Advances calm to her supreme, 
Her God her only throng. 

A triumph when temptation's bribe 
Is slowly handed back, 
One eye upon the heaven renounced 
And one upon the rack. 

Severer triumph, by himself 
Experienced, who can pass 
Acquitted from that naked bar, 
Jehovah's countenance ! 



200 POEMS. 



XVIII. 

pOMPLESS no life can pass away; 

The lowliest career 
To the same pageant wends its way 

As that exalted here. 
How cordial is the mystery ! 

The hospitable pall 
A " this way " beckons spaciously, 

A miracle for all ! 



POEMS. 201 



XIX. . 

T NOTICED people disappeared, 

When but a little child, 
Supposed they visited remote, 
Or settled regions wild. 

Now know I they both visited 
And settled regions wild, 
But did because they died, a fact 
Withheld the little child ! 



202 POEMS. 



XX. 

FOLLOWING. 

T HAD no cause to be awake, 
My best was gone to sleep, 
And morn a new politeness took, 
And failed to wake them up, 

But called the others clear, 
And passed their curtains by. 
Sweet morning, when I over-sleep, 
Knock, recollect, for me ! 

I looked at sunrise once, 
And then I looked at them, 
And wishfulness in me arose 
For circumstance the same. 



POEMS. 

? T was such an ample peace, 

It could not hold a sigh, 

'T was Sabbath with the bells divorced, 

'T was sunset all the day. 

So choosing but a gown 
And taking but a prayer, 
The only raiment I should need, 
I struggled, and was there. 



203 



204 POEMS. 



XXI. 

T F anybody's friend be dead, 
It 's sharpest of the theme 
The thinking how they walked alive, 
At such and such a time. 

Their costume, of a Sunday, 
Some manner of the hair, 
A prank nobody knew but them, 
Lost, in the sepulchre. 

How warm they were on such a day : 
You almost feel the date, 
So short way off it seems ; and now, 
They 're centuries from that. 

How pleased they were at what you said ; 
You try to touch the smile, 
And dip your fingers in the frost : 
When was it, can you tell, 



POEMS. 205 

You asked the company to tea, 
Acquaintance, just a few, 
And chatted close with this grand thing 
That don't remember you ? 

Past bows and invitations, 

Past interview, and vow, 

Past what ourselves can estimate, 

That makes the quick of woe ! 



206 POEMS. 



XXII. 
THE JOURNEY. 

R journey had advanced ; 
Our feet were almost come 
To that odd fork in Being's road, 
Eternity by term. 

Our pace took sudden awe, 
Our feet reluctant led. 
Before were cities, but between, 
The forest of the dead. 

Retreat was out of hope, 
Behind, a sealed route, 
Eternity's white flag before, 
And God at every gate. 



POEMS. 207 



XXIII. 
A COUNTRY BURIAL. 

A MPLE make this bed. 
^^ Make this bed with awe ; 
In it wait till judgment break 
Excellent and fair. 

Be its mattress straight, 
Be its pillow round ; 
Let no sunrise' yellow noise 
Interrupt this ground. 



208 POEMS. 

XXIV. 
GOING. 

/^N such a night, or such a night, 
^^ Would anybody care 
If such a little figure 
Slipped quiet from its chair, 

So quiet, oh, how quiet ! 
That nobody might know 
But that the little figure 
Rocked softer, to and fro ? 

On such a dawn, or such a dawn, 
Would anybody sigh 
That such a little figure 
Too sound asleep did lie 

For chanticleer to wake it, 
Or stirring house below, 
Or giddy bird in orchard, 
Or early task to do ? 



POEMS. 

There was a little figure plump 
For every little knoll, 
Busy needles, and spools of thread, 
And trudging feet from school. 

Playmates, and holidays, and nuts, 
And visions vast and small. 
Strange that the feet so precious charged 
Should reach so small a goal ! 



209 



210 POEMS. 



XXV. 

T^SSENTIAL oils are wrung : 
*-' The attar from the rose 
Is not expressed by suns alone, 
It is the gift of screws. 

The general rose decays ; 
But this, in lady's drawer, 
Makes summer when the lady lies 
In ceaseless rosemary. 



POEMS. 2ii 



XXVI. 

T LIVED on dread ; to those who know 
^ The stimulus there is 
In danger, other impetus 
Is numb and vital-less. 

As 't were a spur upon the soul, 
A fear will urge it where 
To go without the spectre's aid 
Were challenging despair. 



212 POEMS. 



XXVII. 

TF I should die, 

And you should live, 
And time should gurgle on, 
And morn should beam, 
And noon should burn, 
As it has usual done ; 
If birds should build as early, 
And bees as bustling go, 
One might depart at option 
From enterprise below ! 
J T is sweet to know that stocks will stand 
When we with daisies lie, 
That commerce will continue, 
And trades as briskly fly. 
It makes the parting tranquil 
And keeps the soul serene, 
That gentlemen so sprightly 
Conduct the pleasing scene ! 



POEMS. 213 



XXVIII. 
AT LENGTH. 

T T ER final summer was it, 

And yet we guessed it not ; 
If tenderer industriousness 
Pervaded her, we thought 

A further force of life 
Developed from within, 
When Death lit all the shortness up, 
And made the hurry plain. 

We wondered at our blindness, 
When nothing was to see 
But her Carrara guide-post, 
At our stupidity, 

When, duller than our dulness, 
The busy darling lay, 
So busy was she, finishing, 
So leisurely were we ! 



214 POEMS. 



XXIX. 

GHOSTS. 

/^\NE need not be a chamber 'to be haunted, 

One need not be a house ; 
The brain has corridors surpassing 
Material place. 

Far safer, of a midnight meeting 
External ghost, 
Than an interior confronting 
That whiter host. 

Far safer through an Abbey gallop, 
The stones achase, 

Than, moonless, one's own self encounter 
In lonesome place. 



POEMS. 

Ourself, behind ourself concealed, 
Should startle most ; 
Assassin, hid in our apartment, 
Be horror's least. 

The prudent carries a revolver, 
He bolts the door, 
O'erlooking a superior spectre 
More near. 



215 



216 POEMS. 



XXX. 

VANISHED. 

OHE died, this was the way she died 

And when her breath was done, 
Took up her simple wardrobe 
And started for the sun. 

Her little figure at the gate 
The angels must have spied, 
Since I could never find her 
Upon the mortal side. 



POEMS. 217 



XXXI. 
PRECEDENCE. 

\\ 7 AIT till the majesty of Death 

Invests so mean a brow ! 
Almost a powdered footman 
Might dare to touch it now ! 

Wait till in everlasting robes 
This democrat is dressed, 
Then prate about " preferment " 
And " station " and the rest ! 

Around this quiet courtier 
Obsequious angels wait ! 
Full royal is his retinue, 
Full purple is his state ! 

A lord might dare to lift the hat 

To such a modest clay, 

Since that my Lord, " the Lord of lords 

Receives unblushingly ! 



2I g POEMS. 



XXXII. 
GONE. 

~\ \ 7ENT up a year this evening ! 

* * I recollect it well ! 
Amid no bells nor bravos 
The bystanders will tell ! 
Cheerful, as to the village, 
Tranquil, as to repose, 
Chastened, as to the chapel, 
This humble tourist rose. 
Did not talk of returning, 
Alluded to no time 
When, were the gales propitious, 
We might look for him ; 
Was grateful for the roses 
In life's diverse bouquet, 
Talked softly of new species 
To pick another day. 



POEMS. 

Beguiling thus the wonder, 
The wondrous nearer drew ; 
Hands bustled at the moorings 
The crowd respectful grew. 
Ascended from our vision 
To countenances new ! 
A difference, a daisy, 
Is all the rest I knew ! 



219 



220 POEMS. 



XXXIII. 
REQUIEM. 

T^AKEN from men this morning, 

Carried by men to-day, 
Met by the gods with banners 
Who marshalled her away. 

One little maid from playmates, 
One little mind from school. 
There must be guests in Eden ; 
All the rooms are full. 

Far as the east from even, 
Dim as the border star, 
Courtiers quaint, in kingdoms, 
Our departed are. 



POEMS. 221 



XXXIV. 

\1 7 HAT inn is this 

* * Where for the night 
Peculiar traveller comes ? 
Who is the landlord ? 
Where the maids? 
Behold, what curious rooms ! 
No ruddy fires on the hearth, 
No brimming tankards flow. 
Necromancer, landlord, 
Who are these below? 



222 POEMS. 



XXXV. 

TT was not death, for I stood up, 
* And all the dead lie down ; 
It was not night, for all the bells 
Put out their tongues, for noon. 

It was not frost, for on my flesh 
I felt siroccos crawl, 
Nor fire, for just my marble feet 
Could keep a chancel cool. 

And yet it tasted like them all ; 
The figures I have seen 
Set orderly, for burial, 
Reminded me of mine, 

As if my life were shaven 

And fitted to a frame, 

And could not breathe without a key 

And 't was like midnight, some, 



POEMS, 

When everything that ticked has stopped, 
And space stares, all around, 
Or grisly frosts, first autumn morns, 
Repeal the beating ground. 

But most like chaos, stopless, cool, 
Without a chance or spar, 
Or even a report of land 
To justify despair. 



223 



224 POEMS, 



XXXVI. 
TILL THE END. 

T SHOULD not dare to leave my friend, 

Because because if he should die 
While I was gone, and I too late 
Should reach the heart that wanted me ; 

If I should disappoint the eyes 

That hunted, hunted so, to see, 

And could not bear to shut until 

They " noticed " me they noticed me ; 

If I should stab the patient faith 
So sure I 'd come so sure I 'd come, 
It listening, listening, went to sleep 
Telling my tardy name, 

My heart would wish it broke before, 
Since breaking then, since breaking then, 
Were useless as next morning's sun, 
Where midnight frosts had lain ! 



POEMS. 22$ 



XXXVII. 
VOID. 

REAT streets of silence led away 

To neighborhoods of pause ; 
Here was no notice, no dissent, 
No universe, no laws. 

By clocks 't was morning, and for night 
The bells at distance called ; 
But epoch had no basis here, 
For period exhaled. 



226 POEMS. 



XXXVIII. 



A THROE upon the features 

A hurry in the breath, 
An ecstasy of parting 
Denominated " Death," 



An anguish at the mention, 
Which, when to patience grown, 
I Ve known permission given 
To rejoin its own. 



POEMS. 227 

XXXIX. 

SAVED ! 

tribulation these are they 

Denoted by the white ; 
The spangled gowns, a lesser rank 
Of victors designate. 

All these did conquer ; but the ones 
Who overcame most times 
Wear nothing commoner than snow, 
No ornament but palms. 

Surrender is a sort unknown 
On this superior soil ; 
Defeat, an outgrown anguish, 
Remembered as the mile 

Our panting ankle barely gained 
When night devoured the road ; 
But we stood whispering in the house, 
And all we said was " Saved " ! 



22 g POEMS. 



XL. 

T THINK just how my shape will rise 
A When I shall be forgiven, 
Till hair and eyes and timid head 
Are out of sight, in heaven. 

I think just how my lips will weigh 
With shapeless, quivering prayer 
That you, so late, consider me, 
The sparrow of your care. 

I mind me that of anguish sent, 
Some drifts were moved away 
Before my simple bosom broke, 
And why not this, if they ? 

And so, until delirious borne 
I con that thing, " forgiven," 
Till with long fright and longer trust 
I drop my heart, unshriven ! 



POEMS. 



229 



XLI. 
THE FORGOTTEN GRAVE. 

A FTER a hundred years 

Nobody knows the place, 
Agony, that enacted there, 
Motionless as peace. 

Weeds triumphant ranged, 
Strangers strolled and spelled 
At the lone orthography 
Of the elder dead. 

Winds of summer fields 
Recollect the way, 
Instinct picking up the key 
Dropped by memory. 



POEMS. 



XLII. 

T AY this laurel on the one 

Too intrinsic for renown. 
Laurel ! veil your deathless tree, 
Him you chasten, that is he ! 



e?